Consider carefully what you hear. Mark 4:24

I want to be a lifelong learner.

I want to be open to God's promptings and the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I want to listen, hear and respond. -- well, most of the time.

Let me explain.

Just yesterday one of my friends and team members in ministry left a message with regard to a meeting our team had early that day. I usually love hearing from this friend and co-laborer. The message began with words of encouragement and praise for our time together. The message continued with a word of caution and guidance. In a direct and loving way she told me to trust our team to complete the task at hand and that I needed to really listen to the team's comments and opinions.

I listened to the message rather quickly. To be totally honest -- I "skimmed" over her words hoping to capture the key points and move on. I was half listening. Oops! I was doing it again. Then when I paused and considered her words, I realized she was right.

My default is to jump to the bottom line and PUSH ahead when the pressure is on.

I am thankful for a friend who knows me, loves me and cares enough to help me grow. And, I am thankful for God who knows me, loves me and cares enough to help me keep growing.

The first step is becoming aware of my need to change and then I must lean into the hard process of actually changing. For the past few days I seem to keep bumping up against opportunities to apply what I've been learning! I guess this is what it looks like to practice being teachable.

Essence of the Practice
  • listening more, talking less
  • refraining from snap judgments
  • an appropriate openness to new ideas, opinions, styles, and people
  • curbing the know-it-all attitude
  • asking questions that lead to a deeper God awareness

Making it Your Own

  1. Ask God to give you a teachable heart and a will to listen.
  2. Think about a time you learned something from someone who wasn't an authority or an expert. What did you learn? What was it like for you? Tell that person what you learned from them. (For example, my 11 year old son continues to teach me what it looks like to be an encourager. He gave me a high-five the other day as I walked through the kitchen.)
  3. Become aware of your compulsion to let others know what you think. Notice when you're composing what you will say next rather than listening to the one who is speaking.
  4. Get comfortable with saying "I don't know".
  5. Keep a log of the new things you are learning and experiencing with God.
  6. Who do you want to be five, ten, twenty years from now? What will you have to learn to become that person? Ask God to help you become this person. Make a list of those things you need to STOP doing and those things you need to START doing to become that person.
  7. Ask a trusted friend to help you see and hear more clearly. Invite this person to discuss your current aptitude in listening, hearing and responding. Then invite them to walk alongside you as you learn to become more teachable.

some of these ideas are adapted from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun's Spiritual Disciplines Handbook

How teachable are you?

How do you respond when you hear an opinion you don't agree with?

What are you learning about God and yourself these days?


  1. I agee, we should be teachable, but we have to be careful not to be gullible. I would expand on "appropriate" openess to new ideas, etc. There are lots of "new" ideas floating around that we should reject. Our openness has to be governed by whether or not what we are learning lines up with God's word. I think the word "appropriate" should remind us to be cautious, but I'm not sure it's strong enough, when we are constantly bombarded with ideas that may sound good, be popular and politically correct but are contrary to truth. While I agree wholeheartedly that we need to be teachable, can learn from a variety of people--experts and non-experts alike, should be willing to look at life from different perspectives, not get caught up in a particular style, etc., I maintain that we must examine what we hear and make sure the teaching is coming from the Holy Spirit, pointing us Godward. I would probably interpret "Consider carefully" in the Mark verse to be as much a warning to examine and judge what I hear as it is an encouragement to accept and respond to what I hear. Of course, if we listen well, and follow the listening by measuring what we've heard against the scriptures, we can learn even from the untruths that come our way.

  2. I had an opportunity the other day to realize just how bad of a listener I am. I ran into a lady the other day that I hadn't seen in years. After talking for 10 minutes, I told her good-bye and walked away. After recounting the conversation in my mind, I realized that I had caught her up on what had happened in my life, since our last talk. But, couldn't tell you one things about her. UGH!! I was quite disgusted with myself and at that point thought that I needed to work on my listening. Then, I read this post. Well, if this isn't a wake-up call, I don't know what would be.

  3. I love to journal (conversations with God)However, that is ME talking---and I also must listen .
    All conversation should be two-way. So , how do I do that? Meditation is one -as God reaches us in spirit---another is what I would maybe call "cause and effect" . I think of C.S. Lewis as he sat with his friends at Oxford and they discussed their beliefs and understanding of the WORD until the True Word opened up to them like a light. Hearing others,
    reading other's works, studying the Word ourselves begins to bring
    God's side of the conversation to us.

  4. I struggle to become more teachable and to adapt to change/new ideas. While I consider myself a fairly open person, I also find myself pulling back when someone doesn't agree with me. Thank you for the suggestions. I have added several items to my prayer journal. I have been wanting to find a mentor for several years now and this gave me the "boost" I need to spend more time on this pursuit and to include God in the decision.

  5. I had an opportunity to hear from the Holy Spirit in a big way last weekend. I had found out some news about my husband's cousin -she and her husband were separating. Later that day, I shared the news with my husband. It was important that he know, but I found a delicious sense of satisfaction being "in-the-know" and having something new to tell him (rather than vice-versa). Almost immediately the Holy Spirit challenged my attitude. How could I take this situation that caused this beautiful woman and her baby son so much pain and turn it into my chance to feel important?!? It made me feel nauseous and very ugly. Listening to others is not always difficult for me, but I realized that I need hear from the Holy Spirit too. He is always right and knows just what to say.

  6. This is a good lesson for me to read today as I am struggling with several things in life at the moment. I need to be willing to be more teachable by God as to who He has made me to be and not being who I think I need to be for people.....we are created to be like Jesus, not like people. For me, I need to stop and look at what I know I need to do and am not doing them.....I need to let Jesus shine through me and be more like Him.


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